Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FIRST: I woke up early this morning, with right lower back pain and a stiff stomach. Considering I have never felt the pains of labor before I was concerned that I was feeling just that. But after a few minutes of rubbing my back and breathing it out, the pain faded and my belly returned to its less rock-solid phase… and it’s all stayed that way.
So I’m guessing I felt my first Braxton Hicks contraction today. The body’s getting ready!

But anyway,
They say a couple should find a plant, take care of the plant, and if that plant survives and thrives for a year they should graduate to a dog.
Find a dog, take care of that dog, and if that dog thrives and survives for a year, they should graduate to a baby.
Michael and I skipped the plant part (and to be honest I’ve never had much of a green thumb. Try as I might, potted plants tend to die when they belong to me). We did, however, do the dog bit. In case you haven’t met him yet… meet Rigby. He is my first child; my little boy. And WOW has he challenged us!

Rigby’s Life in Summary: The Rigster is a Cajun dog; he was adopted from Michael’s mom who lives in Louisiana, when he was just a few months old. He was the largest pup in the group, and the most friendly – which is what prompted Michael to bring him to me as an early birthday present in May of 2009.

Rigby on his first drive up from LA to TN.
We’ve had our share of speculations on what type of dog Rigby is. All we can say is that he obviously has German Shepherd and Lab in his blood. Others have guessed at Boxer (he has the energy for this), Rhodesian Ridgeback (looks a lot like these dogs, and has the raised fur down the spine), and Great Dane (he’s goofy, clumsy, and friendly).
Young Rigby.

I can definitely say we have lived thru the trials and tribulations of having a dog. We’ve experienced it all: housebreaking, biting walls, jumping on people, not minding, teaching him basic commands, even some snapping back when being disciplined. In many ways I can see how having a dog before a baby can teach you about what is to come. Some lessons I’ve learned while teaching, loving, crying over my dear boy:

Larger Rigby.
-Bribes get the job done… but now you’re stuck for life. For a while we used a clicker to train Rigby. The concept is easy: Make a demand and click the clicker when the dog obeys. This is immediately followed by praise and a food treat, and eventually the clicker will not be needed. We’ve taught Rigby enough so that he doesn’t need the clicker any more, but we have said device. To this day, if you click it, he will expect something delicious. Lesson learned: think before you bribe. You may be in over your head!
-You can never have enough patience. There are days when you sit down and bawl, because your dog just crapped in the back seat of your car for the millionth time (or he ran off and won’t come back to your whistle, or he wants to play when you want to rest, etc.). There are those days when you kick yourself for praising your high-patience attitude because really, there’s never enough to go around.
-You’re not going to be a perfect parent. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes with raising Rigby and I always wish I could give him more. For instance: I take Rigby’s collar off when I give him a bath, and am generally never in a rush to put it back on. Recently Rigby escaped the backyard, and it happened to be a day after a bath – and I had no put his collar on. He was out, he was lost, and he was unidentifiable. I was a mess. WHAT KIND OF PARENT AM I???, I kept asking myself. A terrible one. But people are good, and a nice man had found him, held him, and taken care of him until we could meet up. Rigby is back and that damn collar is on 24/7. Parents are constantly learning too.
-We can learn from dogs; probably more than they can learn from us. Just like children dogs see the world in a state of innocence (except for those that come from broken homes). Rigby is beyond joyful when I come home. He forgives quickly. He enjoys simple things like good food. He is loyal to those who love him most, and hurt him most – and I know he always will be. Can’t we learn a little from that?

One of Rigby's first baths.
-We truly do learn about our "children" like no one else can. I know what Rigby's various vocal mumblings/grumblings mean (I'm having a nightmare/Someone is coming into the house/Let me out, I wanna play/I'm tired). I know that he loves to swim and his favorite game is fetch -- especially if he's fetching out of the water. I know an emergency whimper when I hear one (Note: He whimpered once before when he had a thorn stuck in his paw. Although he has fake whimpered before to get something he wanted, I knew that this whimper was serious). I know that he loves to get his ears cleaned out, and what kind of noise Michael can make that will drive him completely nuts (I know it but I can't mimick it). I know that he has birth marks on both cheeks (two on his right cheek), and one under his chin.

Rigby may be one of the roots of my madness, but it’s Good Madness. Why would I want anything less?

(In celebration of our doggie babies, here is a plug for a friend of mine who has dedicated a blog to her "little monster": Click)

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